Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


 Liber Extra



 Eastern Code


1152 x 864


5 jan 2013

Diaconal categories and clerical celibacy (Chicago Studies)


My other remarks on

clerical continence

can be found on

this web page.


Edward Peters,

Diaconal categories and clerical celibacy,

Chicago Studies 49 (2010) 110-116.


Searchable PDF version here

(3.33 MB)

[T]he diaconate can in the future be restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy….With the consent of the Roman Pontiff, this diaconate can, in the future, be conferred upon men of more mature age, even upon those living in the married state. It may also be conferred upon suitable young men, for whom the law of celibacy must remain intact. Lumen gentium 29.

Introductory remarks


Clerical continence and clerical celibacy are, as I have taken great pains to make clear, distinct issues, but they obviously overlap in certain respects; eventually, questions about one will occasion questions about the other.
Because my recent postings on diaconal (and a fortiori presbyteral) continence might lead to a more systematic examination of how the ordination of tens of thousands of married men to the diaconate (and of scores of married men to the priesthood) is impacting wider questions of clerical discipline in the West, I take this opportunity to post, with the kind permission of the editors at Chicago Studies, a searchable PDF of an article I recently published there on this question, “Diaconal Categories and Clerical Celibacy”.
In the Chicago Studies article I make four main points.
1. After establishing that the adjectives “permanent” and “transitional” are poor indicators of diaconal identity, I demonstrate that, when these two apparently contrasting terms are applied to the diaconate, they give the mistaken impression that there are many more differences between the 'two kinds of diaconates' than really exist.
2. I suggest that the ordination of tens of thousands of married men to the diaconate (and of scores of married men to the priesthood) has occasioned a “crisis” (in the Greek sense of the word, as in, 'arriving at a time for important decisions') regarding the future of clerical celibacy in the Roman Church.
3. Next, assuming that the West desires to preserve and promote the gift of clerical celibacy, I offer five concrete suggestions for the reform of the diaconate that will reflect the Second Vatican Council's esteem for it as a "permanent rank of the hierarchy" while respecting the Council’s openness to calling some married men to diaconal orders.
4. Finally, for the benefit of those who have not read my Studia Canonica article on clerical continence, I suggest some consequences that a renewed recognition of the obligation of perfect and perpetual continence among Western clergy, even married ones, might have for wider questions of clerical celibacy.